Erin Ball

Emily Dickinson as a party girl c. 2007
Emily Dickinson hums nursery rhymes
like a corseted Victorian mother while she
gathers dead moths at your local park for
a clandestine purpose.
Emily Dickinson snorts coke in the stall
of your favorite public bathroom
on dead moth wings because the veins
make a decent outline for white powder.
Emily Dickinson carries scraps of overdose
obituaries in her tiny sparkly clutch.
Everything must have a use, so margins
of obituaries are filled with one word: labia.
Emily Dickinson is wrapped tight in the scandal
of her pleather miniskirt & seductive ice cream licking;
floating in a weird atmosphere of hangovers, highs,
& fur coat envy.
Pretend you are Emily Dickinson’s drug dealer,
your jellyfish crush on her palpable as you slide
her powder. Your fingers brush against hers
& you relish the sting.
Emily Dickinson is writing poems on McDonald’s napkins in your car:
what does it
matter to like
a McCliché when
the heart screams
parfait like a bold
prayer the heart
just wants to fly
beyond burgers
& decay
who will release
this bluebird
of a body?
Feathers & petals rush into ashes on your dashboard
as she smokes Parliament Lights. You, hopeless coke
dealer, feel the crushed powder of love in your chest
when spying on her, the quintessential party girl, who
spends this month’s rent with her quirky addiction.
Emily Dickinson is tired of listening to her
greasy-mouthed companions cry over boyfriends
because we are all intimate red hot bombs waiting
to explode into french fry confetti. She says as much.
Emily Dickinson makes the headline news
the first Friday in October. The news said TOD
was 2:34 a.m. last Thursday. The washed-out
journalist reports she was schoolgirl prepared for a
haunting, writing directions for her own ghost:
follow the heat of red
hots to the edge of the
sky float back into the
ocean let the jellyfish
ghosts sting you back
into an illusion of being.
Emily Dickinson (of course that frail beer-breathed
& stumbling ghost) stalks Poe because she loved
his Annabel Lee even though it’s a cliché. Anna,
she slurs, take me to that sepulcher of free burgers.

Erin Ball is a contributing editor for Palaver. In her academic life, she is in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program at UNCW. Her undergraduate education includes a B.A. in English and a B.F.A. in Creative Writing at UNCW. She is working on her first collection of poems.